When you bring a new baby home, you don’t have unlimited time to hone your mothering skills. In fact, you can expect to hit the ground running from the moment your little one arrives. Fortunately, motherhood offers plenty of on-the-job learning opportunities. Here are a few pointers that can help you and other brand-new parents cope with the challenges of motherhood from day one.

Dealing with the stresses of new motherhood

Making the transition from being a childless couple to a family with a baby can be both a joy and a nightmare. Well, it would be a nightmare, if a new mommy could sleep. Lack of sleep may be the number one stressor for brand new parents.

If you think stress isn’t a big issue, do think again. Stress is associated with unhappy events, but stress can tag along with beautiful happenings in your life, too. Stress can lead to everything from headaches to heart issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of proven ways to deal with the hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and other stresses of new motherhood.

Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is medical director at the National Center for Children and Families, in Bethesda, Maryland. In an interview with Parenting magazine, the doctor assured new moms that feelings of overwhelm are not uncommon.

“It’s normal to feel overwhelmed even about something as positive as a new baby. Stress is a reaction, a physiological and emotional adjustment to change. You will live longer and be healthier if you learn to manage your stress.”

Transitioning into new parenthood

Before baby arrives, have a heart-to-heart with your partner. How will you handle in-laws who want to come to visit? Which one of you will get up in the middle of the night to address the issues of a fussy newborn? Can you let a baby “cry it out” or does one of you feel that every whimper must be investigated immediately? Knowing your partner’s parenting philosophies in advance will help you adjust to new parenthood on physical and emotional levels, say parenthood experts at WebMD.

What to do with a fussy newborn

Brand-new infants can be confounding little creatures. Happy and cooing one minute, they can turn into a raging ball of fussiness the next. If you’ve ascertained the dryness of baby’s diaper and made sure she or he is fed, and they still whine and cry, you might want to try a few tricks that have worked for other new parents.

Believe it or not, some new mommies find that placing baby in a swing and running a vacuum cleaner in the same room can lull a little one to sleep. Likewise, if you securely buckle them into a car seat and take them for a drive in the family Chrysler Pacifica. Motion and droning noises help many fussy babies calm down and snooze.

New parenthood can be a whole lot of fun. When it gets stressful, take a deep breath and imagine the day your new baby is a teenager asking for the car keys.